Author Topic: God "Speaking"  (Read 1269 times)

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Offline ReconciledOne

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God "Speaking"
« on: December 16, 2017, 01:03:33 PM »
Hi all,

In my protestant days, there was a lot of talk about "listening for God's voice," which was often equated with following the Holy Spirit. This was always a bit confusing though, because it's difficult to know what is God's "voice" and what is your conscience, or even your own ego, talking.  :P And, how authoritative is it?

Does the Orthodox Church say anything about an individual receiving direct commands or words from God? Can we only hear God's voice through the Bible, priests, the Church Fathers?

Thanks :)
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"Margaret the Churchwoman, her father the dissenter, Higgins the Infidel, knelt down together. It did them no harm." - Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South

Offline Sharbel

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Re: God "Speaking"
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2017, 02:17:47 PM »
Whatever you hear in prayer, talk it over with your priest.  The faith is not meant to be lived out on one's own, but in the Church, for only when two or more are gathered in His name can one be assured of His presence.
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Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: God "Speaking"
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2017, 04:01:35 PM »
Grassroots Protestants tend to do a lot of overcompensating.

Yes, we believe God loves us and directs our lives. But the kind of claims you are talking about are meant to elevate a church's members to prophets and apostles and recipients of healing miracles, because this is attractive in a wasteland of a thousand denominations. In the same milieu, the "sure word" of Mormonism is attractive to some. But we have the ancient faith and feel no inadequacy. Yet again I'll emphasize that we do believe in and teach God's love for each of us and saving power.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2017, 04:02:09 PM by Porter ODoran »
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Quote from: Seekingtrue
Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline Nicodemusz138

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Re: God "Speaking"
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2017, 02:32:01 PM »
Whatever you hear in prayer, talk it over with your priest.  The faith is not meant to be lived out on one's own, but in the Church, for only when two or more are gathered in His name can one be assured of His presence.

Oh boy, this is going to be a problem to people like me :-[
« Last Edit: December 17, 2017, 02:32:35 PM by Nicodemusz138 »
As of 2018, I do not post or read here as often as I did, since essentially speaking, I am no longer trying to convert to any church for the moment being, but I am on every second still searching for my home in Christ.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14

Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: God "Speaking"
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2017, 05:20:02 PM »
Whatever you hear in prayer, talk it over with your priest.  The faith is not meant to be lived out on one's own, but in the Church, for only when two or more are gathered in His name can one be assured of His presence.

Oh boy, this is going to be a problem to people like me :-[

Good!
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Quote from: Seekingtrue
Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: God "Speaking"
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2017, 09:26:35 PM »
Hi all,

In my protestant days, there was a lot of talk about "listening for God's voice," which was often equated with following the Holy Spirit. This was always a bit confusing though, because it's difficult to know what is God's "voice" and what is your conscience, or even your own ego, talking.  :P And, how authoritative is it?

Does the Orthodox Church say anything about an individual receiving direct commands or words from God? Can we only hear God's voice through the Bible, priests, the Church Fathers?

There's hearing direct commands or words from God, and then there's hearing direct commands or words from God.

#1: Hearing a voice from God or an angel or saint

#2: Having a notion that is tagged as "from God" as opposed to notions that are tagged as "from oneself", etc.

As for #2... who can navigate it? Fr. Hopko once said, check your plans with God's commandments. And if you check your plans with God's commandments, then it doesn't matter as much who they came from.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2017, 09:29:00 PM by NicholasMyra »
Quote from: Fr. Thomas Hopko, dystopian parable of the prodigal son
...you can imagine so-called healing services of the pigpen. The books that could be written, you know: Life in the Pigpen. How to Cope in the Pigpen. Being Happy in the Pigpen. Surviving in the Pigpen. And then there could be counselling, for people who feel unhappy in the pigpen, to try to get them to come to terms with the pigpen, and to accept the pigpen.

Offline Agabus

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Re: God "Speaking"
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2017, 10:06:39 PM »
#2: Having a notion that is tagged as "from God" as opposed to notions that are tagged as "from oneself", etc.
As my wife and I used to observe about certain family members: It's amazing how much God's will happens to line up with what they want.
Blessed Nazarius practiced the ascetic life. His clothes were tattered. He wore his shoes without removing them for six years.

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Take a breath, read Ecclesiastes 1:9.

Offline ReconciledOne

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Re: God "Speaking"
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2017, 07:42:42 AM »
Thanks everyone for the useful responses.

Coming from a "tradition" where the relationship with God is always stressed as the most important thing, this is new territory :)

Then, in an Orthodox understanding, what would a "a relationship with God" be like? Or is that idea not in Orthodox thought?

They (Protestants) always spoke of it as any other relationship (although of course between an imperfect being and a perfect being rather than two imperfect ones) in that we talk, "hear," understand, fellowship, etc....
"If there were no tribulation, there would be no rest; if there were no winter, there would be no summer."
-Saint John Chrysostom

"Margaret the Churchwoman, her father the dissenter, Higgins the Infidel, knelt down together. It did them no harm." - Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South

Offline Ainnir

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Re: God "Speaking"
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2017, 01:49:41 PM »
It's not that "having a relationship with God" isn't a concept in Orthodoxy--it is everything in Orthodoxy.  But the where and how and why we "have a relationship with God" are pretty different between Evangelicalism and Orthodoxy.

I don't want to express it incorrectly, though.  Plus it's not really a soundbite.  ;)
Is any of the above Orthodox?  I have no clue, so there's that.

Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: God "Speaking"
« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2017, 01:50:17 PM »
The relationship with God is core, central, vital, key. It just does not take an imaginary shape -- and I'm sure you can perceive why! -- but the shape attested to by the sacred Christian tradition. So we are called to a life of prayer, humility, charity, and a desire for God. We do so in the company of our fellow Orthodox Christians, our priests, and the saints of all eras. The Divine Liturgy is central to this pursuit. Read the Sermon on the Mount. Read Alexander Shmemann's For the Life of the World. Read about the ancient Christian concepts of the 'nous' and 'theoria.'
« Last Edit: December 18, 2017, 01:51:04 PM by Porter ODoran »
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Quote from: Seekingtrue
Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: God "Speaking"
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2017, 01:31:29 AM »
They (Protestants) always spoke of it as any other relationship...in that we talk, "hear," understand
I think that's true. And relationships aren't built on your own thoughts called by someone else's name, they are built on real interactions with people.

To say something cliche, if you go to church, pray and try the commandments then God can be with you in such a way that the question of who owns your fleeting thoughts stops mattering.
Quote from: Fr. Thomas Hopko, dystopian parable of the prodigal son
...you can imagine so-called healing services of the pigpen. The books that could be written, you know: Life in the Pigpen. How to Cope in the Pigpen. Being Happy in the Pigpen. Surviving in the Pigpen. And then there could be counselling, for people who feel unhappy in the pigpen, to try to get them to come to terms with the pigpen, and to accept the pigpen.

Offline David Young

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Re: God "Speaking"
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2017, 02:42:37 PM »
There are a lot of Evangelical preachers today who deny that God speaks to his children. When I was staying the night with a Baptist minister in Edinburgh some years ago, we discussed this, and he reckoned the idea was new and had come recently from America. Certainly, as regards its being new, it was new to me. Where it came from, I cannot say, but it is often said that most heresies come from America. (I like that bit!). It seems to me that the Bible portrays a God from Genesis to Revelation who speaks to his children; and the NT gives us a Lord who said, "My sheep hear my voice," not, "My sheep read by Book" (though of course we do read the Book). Disasters have been avoided when people have followed what they believed was the personal prompting of the Spirit, either for their own protection or the safety of others. If God no longer speaks personally to his children, then in my view he has changed. And if God is different from the God of the Bible, of what use is the Bible any more?
"But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another." Galatians 5.15

Offline Ainnir

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Re: God "Speaking"
« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2017, 05:50:09 PM »
There are a lot of Evangelical preachers today who deny that God speaks to his children. When I was staying the night with a Baptist minister in Edinburgh some years ago, we discussed this, and he reckoned the idea was new and had come recently from America. Certainly, as regards its being new, it was new to me. Where it came from, I cannot say, but it is often said that most heresies come from America. (I like that bit!). It seems to me that the Bible portrays a God from Genesis to Revelation who speaks to his children; and the NT gives us a Lord who said, "My sheep hear my voice," not, "My sheep read by Book" (though of course we do read the Book). Disasters have been avoided when people have followed what they believed was the personal prompting of the Spirit, either for their own protection or the safety of others. If God no longer speaks personally to his children, then in my view he has changed. And if God is different from the God of the Bible, of what use is the Bible any more?

This post brings Moses to mind.
Is any of the above Orthodox?  I have no clue, so there's that.

Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: God "Speaking"
« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2017, 11:45:04 PM »
If God no longer speaks personally to his children, then in my view he has changed.
Where in the bible does God communicate through God-tagged thoughts, aside from in actual visions?

Don't think people even had a mindset in which this would make sense back then.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2017, 11:46:03 PM by NicholasMyra »
Quote from: Fr. Thomas Hopko, dystopian parable of the prodigal son
...you can imagine so-called healing services of the pigpen. The books that could be written, you know: Life in the Pigpen. How to Cope in the Pigpen. Being Happy in the Pigpen. Surviving in the Pigpen. And then there could be counselling, for people who feel unhappy in the pigpen, to try to get them to come to terms with the pigpen, and to accept the pigpen.

Offline ComingofAge

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Re: God "Speaking"
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2018, 02:44:10 PM »
In the book of Proverbs we see many references to "safety in a multitude of counselors" and "where there is no counsel, the people fall". It was said in an earlier post and I shall reiterate, we are to walk this path together not alone. When a so-called "Christian" sequesters himself in his room and begins to read the Bible and interpret it for himself and claims to hear "God's voice" and experience "revelations", you can be sure he is entertaining demons. I have a co-worker who does this. He loves to dive into the Book of Revelation and interpret it for himself. He makes many claims and believes he may have prophetic insight. I consistently light candles for this fellow...

Individualism has no place in Orthodoxy. If you have been influenced in any way, shape or form by our modern culture then that statement may bring a bit of a stinging feeling. Our society today tells us to think for yourself, live for yourself, it's all about you, and on and on it goes... let me tell you, these are doctrines of devils. I say this not to condemn, but to warn you of the reality of spiritual delusion. When we take what our society has taught and apply it to spiritual life, we're in for great danger! Evangelicalism has been highly influenced by our secular world. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that the logical conclusion of Evangelicalism is a complete embrace of secularism.

If you want to know if God is speaking to you or not, do what another poster said here, test it against The Ten Commandments. And I would strongly suggest to keep a constant dialogue with your spiritual father, make regular confessions, be involved at your local parish and also get involved with a monastic community if you happen to have one nearby. Don't hide, don't sequester yourself, don't tread this path alone...

I will end this post with some wisdom from Saint Silouan:
Prayer preserves a man from sin, for the prayerful mind stays intent on God, and in humbleness of spirit stands before the Face of the Lord, Whom the soul of him who prays knoweth.

But the novice naturally needs a guide, for until the advent of the grace of the Holy Spirit the soul is involved in fierce struggle against her foes, and is unable to disentangle herself if the enemy offer her his delights. Only the man with experience of the grace of the Holy Spirit can understand this. He who has savored the Holy Spirit recognizes the taste of grace.

The man who sets out without guidance to engage in prayer (imagining in his arrogance that he can learn to pray from books), and will not go to a spiritual director, is already half beguiled. But the Lord succors the man who is humble, and if there be no experienced guide and he turns to any confessor he finds, the Lord will watch over him for his humility.

Think in this wise: the Holy Spirit dwells in your confessor, and he will tell you what is right. But if you say to yourself that your confessor lives a careless life, how can the Holy Spirit dwell in him, you will suffer mightily for such thoughts, and the Lord will bring you low, and you are sure to fall into delusion.

........

O man, learn the humility of Christ and the Lord will give you to taste of the sweetness of prayer. And if you would pray purely, be humble and temperate, confess yourself thoroughly, and prayer will feel at home in you. Be obedient, submit with a good conscience to those in authority. Be content with all things, and your mind will be cleansed of vain thoughts.

........

Ask counsel of the experienced, if such you find, and humbly entreat the Lord, and the Lord will give you understanding because of your humility.

........

But do not forget the pattern of spiritual life: God bestows His gifts on the simple, lowly and obedient soul. The man who is obedient and temperate in all things - in food, in speech, in movement - receives the gift of prayer from the Lord Himself, and prayer continues without difficulty in his heart.
Let us open our mouths and sing hymns of salvation. Come and fall down in the house of the Lord and say: Pardon our sins, you who hung upon the cross and rose from the dead, and yet are forever in the bosom of the Father.

+ Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen. +

Offline Sharbel

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Re: God "Speaking"
« Reply #15 on: January 07, 2018, 06:24:16 PM »
Evangelicalism has been highly influenced by our secular world. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that the logical conclusion of Evangelicalism is a complete embrace of secularism.
I'd actually go further and suggest that Evangelicalism will be an ephemeral gasp of Protestantism before it dilutes into atheistic secularism, itself a creature of Protestantism.  In a way, the creature will devour its creator, much like the spirit that inspired it has been trying to do.

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Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: God "Speaking"
« Reply #16 on: January 07, 2018, 06:29:20 PM »
In the book of Proverbs we see many references to "safety in a multitude of counselors" and "where there is no counsel, the people fall". It was said in an earlier post and I shall reiterate, we are to walk this path together not alone. When a so-called "Christian" sequesters himself in his room and begins to read the Bible and interpret it for himself and claims to hear "God's voice" and experience "revelations", you can be sure he is entertaining demons. I have a co-worker who does this. He loves to dive into the Book of Revelation and interpret it for himself. He makes many claims and believes he may have prophetic insight. I consistently light candles for this fellow...

Individualism has no place in Orthodoxy. If you have been influenced in any way, shape or form by our modern culture then that statement may bring a bit of a stinging feeling. Our society today tells us to think for yourself, live for yourself, it's all about you, and on and on it goes... let me tell you, these are doctrines of devils. I say this not to condemn, but to warn you of the reality of spiritual delusion. When we take what our society has taught and apply it to spiritual life, we're in for great danger! Evangelicalism has been highly influenced by our secular world. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that the logical conclusion of Evangelicalism is a complete embrace of secularism.

If you want to know if God is speaking to you or not, do what another poster said here, test it against The Ten Commandments. And I would strongly suggest to keep a constant dialogue with your spiritual father, make regular confessions, be involved at your local parish and also get involved with a monastic community if you happen to have one nearby. Don't hide, don't sequester yourself, don't tread this path alone...

I will end this post with some wisdom from Saint Silouan:
Prayer preserves a man from sin, for the prayerful mind stays intent on God, and in humbleness of spirit stands before the Face of the Lord, Whom the soul of him who prays knoweth.

But the novice naturally needs a guide, for until the advent of the grace of the Holy Spirit the soul is involved in fierce struggle against her foes, and is unable to disentangle herself if the enemy offer her his delights. Only the man with experience of the grace of the Holy Spirit can understand this. He who has savored the Holy Spirit recognizes the taste of grace.

The man who sets out without guidance to engage in prayer (imagining in his arrogance that he can learn to pray from books), and will not go to a spiritual director, is already half beguiled. But the Lord succors the man who is humble, and if there be no experienced guide and he turns to any confessor he finds, the Lord will watch over him for his humility.

Think in this wise: the Holy Spirit dwells in your confessor, and he will tell you what is right. But if you say to yourself that your confessor lives a careless life, how can the Holy Spirit dwell in him, you will suffer mightily for such thoughts, and the Lord will bring you low, and you are sure to fall into delusion.

........

O man, learn the humility of Christ and the Lord will give you to taste of the sweetness of prayer. And if you would pray purely, be humble and temperate, confess yourself thoroughly, and prayer will feel at home in you. Be obedient, submit with a good conscience to those in authority. Be content with all things, and your mind will be cleansed of vain thoughts.

........

Ask counsel of the experienced, if such you find, and humbly entreat the Lord, and the Lord will give you understanding because of your humility.

........

But do not forget the pattern of spiritual life: God bestows His gifts on the simple, lowly and obedient soul. The man who is obedient and temperate in all things - in food, in speech, in movement - receives the gift of prayer from the Lord Himself, and prayer continues without difficulty in his heart.


Thank you. Pray for us, St. Silouan. This is what's truly grand about Orthodoxy among churches, that she presents to the seeking soul real solutions for salvation.
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Quote from: Seekingtrue
Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline ComingofAge

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Re: God "Speaking"
« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2018, 08:10:09 PM »
Evangelicalism has been highly influenced by our secular world. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that the logical conclusion of Evangelicalism is a complete embrace of secularism.
I'd actually go further and suggest that Evangelicalism will be an ephemeral gasp of Protestantism before it dilutes into atheistic secularism, itself a creature of Protestantism.  In a way, the creature will devour its creator, much like the spirit that inspired it has been trying to do.

Right on point!!!


Thank you. Pray for us, St. Silouan. This is what's truly grand about Orthodoxy among churches, that she presents to the seeking soul real solutions for salvation.

Precisely!
Let us open our mouths and sing hymns of salvation. Come and fall down in the house of the Lord and say: Pardon our sins, you who hung upon the cross and rose from the dead, and yet are forever in the bosom of the Father.

+ Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen. +

Offline Volnutt

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Re: God "Speaking"
« Reply #18 on: January 10, 2018, 01:35:44 PM »
There are a lot of Evangelical preachers today who deny that God speaks to his children. When I was staying the night with a Baptist minister in Edinburgh some years ago, we discussed this, and he reckoned the idea was new and had come recently from America. Certainly, as regards its being new, it was new to me. Where it came from, I cannot say, but it is often said that most heresies come from America. (I like that bit!). It seems to me that the Bible portrays a God from Genesis to Revelation who speaks to his children; and the NT gives us a Lord who said, "My sheep hear my voice," not, "My sheep read by Book" (though of course we do read the Book). Disasters have been avoided when people have followed what they believed was the personal prompting of the Spirit, either for their own protection or the safety of others. If God no longer speaks personally to his children, then in my view he has changed. And if God is different from the God of the Bible, of what use is the Bible any more?

God speaks, but the speaking comes through Scripture, and the words of the Saints, and through the common sense wisdom of the spiritually experienced. Inner promptings need not be read as God directly inner locuting with you like you're a prophet (which has caused plenty of disasters too when people wrongly pegged some feeling as God when it wasn't), but as your own conscience and intuition, tempered and trained by your background knowledge of what God wants.
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